Twitter leads to thousands signing circuses petition

A campaign by animal lovers on Twitter has led to thousands of people signing The Independent’s online petition calling for a ban on tigers and lions in circuses.

Hundreds of individuals and animal welfare organisations have tweeted and retweeted the petition calling on Downing Street to announce a ban on wild animals in the big top. Ten days after its launch, 17,500 people have now signed the petition.

As predicted by the Independent, the Government last week blocked plans for a ban and instead proposed new regulations under which circuses would have to pass animal welfare inspections.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman - whose initial support for ban is thought to have been overruled by Downing Street - said that while “most people would prefer not to see them [wild animals] performing in circuses”, circus owners could challenge a ban in the courts.

Animal welfare organisations considered that to be an inadequate excuse because the European Commission ruled last year that banning wild animals in circuses is a matter for individual member states.

The RSPCA, British Veterinary Association, Born Free Foundation and the Captive Animals Protection Society are backing the Independent’s campaign.

This weekend Peta, the animal rights group, said: “We strongly urge the government to rethink its outrageous and ill-informed decision which goes against not only the recommendations of the British Veterinary Association but also every animal welfare organisation in the country.”

Representatives of the Independent, the RSPCA, BVA, Born Free and Caps will present the petition to Downing Street on Tuesday.

The target is to reach 20,000 signatures by then.

Last chance to sign the petition, click here (